Community meeting

Robert E. Lee High’s name change honored at community reunion

JACKSONVILLE, Florida –The Northside Coalition and other members of the Jacksonville community gathered Monday afternoon before a meeting, rallying for a name change at Robert E. Lee High School. A meeting on the name change of Andrew Jackson High School takes place Tuesday evening.

LINK: Duval County Public School Name Changes Tracking

Ben Frazier, chairman of the Northside Coalition, said in a statement: “Our children should not be forced to live under monuments, names and symbols that perpetuate racism and the myth of white superiority. “

Frazier says Lee was a Confederate general who owned slaves. He says some people “still wage a civil war” and Jacksonville must work together to end racial divisions and conflicts.

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“We recognize that there is a difference between southern heritage and Confederate heritage. The heritage of the South has to do with our culture, the Confederate heritage is the perpetuation of slavery, ”said Frazier.

The rally preceded a reunion at the high school, where community members were invited to share their feelings about the school’s name change. A total of nine Duval County schools are in the middle of the process.

Some of the names suggested at Monday’s meeting included Avondale High School or Riverside High School.

Many people disagree over the renaming of Robert E. Lee High School. The third of five community meetings took place on Monday evening.

“I go to a school that feeds Robert E. Lee directly, and I don’t want Robert E. Lee’s name on my graduation certificate,” said Grace Mae, a seventh grade student. “If we’re going to make Jacksonville the big, bold city and stuff, we’ve got to make it good for the students and the people.”

At the time of publication of this article, nearly 15,000 supporters had added their names to a Changer.org petition titled “Change the name to Robert E Lee High School in Jacksonville, FL.

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Some who are against the name change believe that history should be preserved.

“We cannot change history. All you can do is learn from history, ”one person said at the meeting.

A group of Lee High School alumni are pushing to retain the school’s name, claiming Lee High has too much history to be renamed.

“Our voice should carry a lot more weight than people who have never been to this school. We are the alumni of this school. We love this school. There was never any question of racism. It was never about racism for us. It’s all about the pride of the South, ”Lee High School alumnus Joey Steves said previously.

The group formed a committee to oppose the name change.

There is also a website for those opposed to the name change: SavetheSchoolNames.org.

Six of the schools being considered to be renamed to honor Confederate Civil War leaders and the other three schools are named after leaders who perpetrated violence against Native Americans.

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The schools considered are:

  • Joseph Finegan Elementary School

  • Stonewall Jackson Elementary School

  • Jefferson Davis Midfielder

  • Kirby Smith Midfielder

  • JEB Stuart Midfielder

  • Robert E. Lee High

  • Andrew Jackson High School

  • Jean Ribault High School

  • Jean Ribault College

In June, the DCPS board of directors voted unanimously to begin the process of reviewing the name changes of six of the schools. Jackson High, Ribault High and Ribault Middle schools were added to the list in early August.

The school principal will make a final recommendation on any name change to the school board, which will have the final say.

According to the district’s website, a total of 28 meetings are scheduled to rename the nine schools that bear the name of a Confederate leader.

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